01 November 2017

Two Cost-Effective Canon Lenses for Birds in Flight Photography

Two Canon 400mm Focal Length Lens Options for Birds in Flight Photographers
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Budget Lens Choices for Serious Birds in Flight Photography
This is a topic I frequently discuss during my frequent Birds in Flight Photography training and workshops in Milnerton / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town.

Note: Birds in Flight Photography images from both lenses are at the end of this article.

Both prime and (certain) zoom lenses are good to go for Birds in Flight photography (and perched birds), but there are various criteria for enthusiast photographers to consider:

  • Importance of Birds in flight Photography
  • Minimum focal length: 300mm vs 400mm+
  • Canon vs. other lenses (i.e.Sigma / Tamron)
  • Full frame and / or crop camera body
  • Using tele-converters (and compatibility)
  • Autofocus speed (NB for birds in flight)
  • Weight (mobility for carrying long periods)
  • Cost of ownership (Budget / ROI)

Compatibility with Canon EOS Full Frame / APS-C (Crop) Bodies
Both these Canon EF lenses are fully compatible with all Canon EOS DSLR bodies. Paired with the Canon EOS Full Frame bodies (i.e. EOS 6D / EOS 5D Mark IV) it will be 400mm focal length or 100-400mm focal length range.

On Canon EOS APS-C bodies (i.e. EOS 700D  / EOS 80D / EOS 7D Mark II) it will be the focal length of the lens at any range x the 1.6 crop factor. I.e on the EOS 7D Mark II it with a 400mm prime lens will be 400mm x 1.6 = 640mm (Field of View). Most post-processing software will register the focal length in the EXIF Data as the standard lens focal length (irrespective of the 1.6 crop factor).  


Summary of Canon's popular 400mm focal length lenses for Birds in Flight photography (and other nature / wildlife applications):

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens


This high-performance lens was designed with portability and handling ease in mind. One Super UD-glass element, whose characteristics are similar to fluorite, and one UD-glass element result in sharp pictures from corner-to-corner. The lens also has a built-in hood and a detachable tripod mount (Ref: Canon USA).

A very cost-effective / value lens lens for birds in flight and perched birds for both Canon EOS APS-C or full frame bodies is the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens. It's a prime lens at 400mm (no zoom) with very quick autofocus and sharp image quality. Its mobile enough to carry all day and once you get used to the 400mm fix focal length its a gem of a lens
.

Note: This lens does not feature Image Stabilization (IS), but its not really a concern for Birds in Flight Photography. At fast shutters speeds of 1/1000's to 1/5000's IS is not necessary. This is my most used lens and I shoot with it all day handheld at shutter speeds up to 1/5000s.The perched kingfisher below was shot with this lens in Av Mode: f/5.6 / ISO 1600 / 1/5000s.

An affordable / fast Autofocus lens for Birds in Flight Photography

 Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom lens

This lens delivers a superb combination of cutting-edge performance, compact construction and brilliant resolving power that’s great for sports and wildlife photography. The lens features one fluorite and one super UD element to help provide impressive contrast and resolution with reduced chromatic aberration across the entire zoom range.


Canon’s new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) helps significantly reduce backlit flaring and ghosting, while fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens surfaces help lessen smears and fingerprints. A 9-blade circular aperture renders beautiful, soft backgrounds, and a 3 mode (standard, panning and exposure only) Optical Image Stabilizer provides up to 4 steps* of image correction. (Ref: Canon USA)

Currently the newer Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens is one of the most popular Canon lenses for a variety of genres / applications and of course, for birds in flight. It was launched the same time as the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and also pairs well with said body and the Canon Extender / Tele-converter EF 1.4x III.


More information>> Canon USA

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom lens


These lenses and many other cost-effective / suitable birds in flight photography lenses will be discussed during the upcoming Birds in Flight Workshop.

I've used both Canon lenses on the following bodies (over the last few years)
  • Canon EOS 700D
  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon EOS 80D
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Canon EOS 6D

Birds in Flight Workshop Cape Town:  More Information

All Vernon Chalmers Photography Workshops Cape Town 2017: All Workshops


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town
Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

All bird in flight / perched bird images by Vernon Chalmers


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Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens Sample Images / More Images

(Click to Enlarge)
Two Canon EF 400mm Lens Options for Birds in Flight Photographers
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens / Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens Sample Images
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens / Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens Sample Images
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens / Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Prime / Telephoto Lens Sample Images
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens /  Canon EOS 7D Mark II


Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom lens Sample Images / More Images

(Click to Enlarge)
 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f//4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens /  Canon EOS 7D Mark II

 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom lens
Canon EF 100-400mm f//4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens / Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Two Canon EF 400mm Lens Options for Birds in Flight Photographers
Canon EF 100-400mm f//4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens /  Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Two Canon EF 400mm Lens Options for Birds in Flight Photographers
Canon EF 100-400mm f//4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens /  Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town